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Some Evidence on the Importance of Sticky Prices

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  • Mark Bils
  • Peter J. Klenow

Abstract

We examine the frequency of price changes for 350 categories of goods and services covering about 70% of consumer spending, based on unpublished data from the BLS for 1995 to 1997. Compared with previous studies we find much more frequent price changes, with half of prices lasting less than 4.3 months. The frequency of price changes differs dramatically across categories. We exploit this variation to ask how inflation for 'flexible-price goods' (goods with frequent changes in individual prices) differs from inflation for 'sticky-price goods' (those displaying infrequent price changes). Compared to the predictions of popular sticky price models, actual inflation rates are far more volatile and transient, particularly for sticky-price goods. The data appendix for this paper can be found at http://www.nber.org/data-appendix/w9069/

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9069.

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Date of creation: Jul 2002
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9069

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  1. Argia M. Sbordone, 2001. "Prices and Unit Labor Costs: A New Test of Price Stickiness," Departmental Working Papers 199822, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  2. Christiano, Lawrence J. & Eichenbaum, Martin & Evans, Charles L., 1999. "Monetary policy shocks: What have we learned and to what end?," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 65-148 Elsevier.
  3. Laurence Ball & David Romer, 1987. "Sticky Prices as Coordination Failure," NBER Working Papers 2327, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Michael Dotsey & Robert G. King, 2001. "Pricing, Production and Persistence," NBER Working Papers 8407, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Taylor, John B., 1999. "Staggered price and wage setting in macroeconomics," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 15, pages 1009-1050 Elsevier.
  6. Ohanian, Lee E & Stockman, Alan C & Kilian, Lutz, 1995. "The Effects of Real and Monetary Shocks in a Business Cycle Model with Some Sticky Prices," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(4), pages 1209-34, November.
  7. Susanto Basu & John G. Fernald, 1996. "Returns to scale in U.S. production: estimates and implications," International Finance Discussion Papers 546, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  8. Aoki, Kosuke, 2001. "Optimal monetary policy responses to relative-price changes," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 55-80, August.
  9. Barro, Robert J, 1972. "A Theory of Monopolistic Price Adjustment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(1), pages 17-26, January.
  10. Dennis W. Carlton, 1987. "The Theory and the Facts of How Markets Clear: Is Industrial Organization Valuable for Understanding Macroeconomics?," NBER Working Papers 2178, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Kashyap, Anil K, 1995. "Sticky Prices: New Evidence from Retail Catalogs," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(1), pages 245-74, February.
  12. Erceg, Christopher J. & Henderson, Dale W. & Levin, Andrew T., 2000. "Optimal monetary policy with staggered wage and price contracts," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 281-313, October.
  13. Fuhrer, Jeff & Moore, George, 1995. "Inflation Persistence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(1), pages 127-59, February.
  14. Dennis W. Carlton, 1987. "The Rigidity of Prices," NBER Working Papers 1813, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. James M. MacDonald & Daniel Aaronson, 2000. "How do retail prices react to minimum wage increases?," Working Paper Series WP-00-20, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  16. Jonathan L. Willis, 2000. "Estimation of adjustment costs in a model of state-dependent pricing," Research Working Paper RWP 00-07, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  17. Bils, Mark, 1987. "The Cyclical Behavior of Marginal Cost and Price," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 838-55, December.
  18. Hall, Simon & Walsh, Mark & Yates, Anthony, 2000. "Are UK Companies' Prices Sticky?," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 52(3), pages 425-46, July.
  19. Benigno, Pierpaolo, 2001. "Optimal Monetary Policy in a Currency Area," CEPR Discussion Papers 2755, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  20. Elizabeth Caucutt & Mrinal Ghosh & Christina Kelton, 1999. "Durability Versus Concentration as an Explanation for Price Inflexibility," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 27-50, February.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Bernanke: Inflation Expectations and Inflation Forecasting
    by Mark Thoma in Economist's View on 2007-07-10 20:08:00
  2. On the dispersion in price rigidities
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2008-09-05 16:15:00
  3. Prices are not rigid
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2008-03-12 17:51:00
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